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Obey the Law of the Land

To obey the law of the land is a commandment

The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote the following statement concerning obeying the law of the land:

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” 1

All Latter-day Saints throughout the world believe that they are under strict commandment to obey the laws of the country in which they live. Latter-day Saints are counseled by their leaders to be good citizens, to participate in civil government and the political process, and to give community service. In this capacity, however, they function as concerned citizens and not representatives of the Church.

Obey the law of the land--God's revelation

To the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord instructed,

“Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he [Jesus] reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet.” 2

The Church formally agrees to obey the law of the land

On August 17, 1835, at a general assembly of Church leaders in Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet Joseph Smith made a declaration of belief regarding governments and laws in general, which was adopted by a unanimous vote. 3 Thus, despite the persecution and abuse that the Church had suffered, they formally agreed to uphold, honor and obey the law of the land.

Therefore, no one, neither a member nor a non-member of the Church, has an excuse to misinterpret the Church’s stand on members’ obligation to honor, sustain, uphold and obey the laws of the countries in which they live.

Questions about 'Obey the Law of the Land'

  • What was the Prophet Joseph Smith's statement concerning Church members' obligation to obey the law of the land in which they reside?


  • What was the Lord's revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning Church members' obligation to obey the law of the land?


  • Despite vicious persecution, the Church formally agreed to obey the law of the land. In what setting did that happen?


  • Should there be any question that the Church and its members honor their commitment to obey the law of the land?

What should you do now?

If any part of this message rings true, we invite you to take the next steps:

  1. Request free materials
  2. Invite missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to visit you and teach you more.

In either case, you have no obligation. But if you have the courage to act, you will discover the greatest revelation and happiness of your life!

References for 'Obey the Law of the Land'

  1. Articles of Faith :12
  2. D&C 58:21-22 – Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land. Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet.
  3. see D&C 135